What is National Action? Banned neo-Nazi group explained - and when Met Police officer Benjamin Hannam joined

A Met police officer has been convicted over his membership of banned neo-Nazi group National Action.

Benjamin Hannam, of Enfield, London, is the first police officer to be convicted on terrorism offences in the UK.

Alongside being found guilty of belonging to National Action, Hannam was convicted of lying on his application to the Met police and possessing terror documents containing details of knife combat and making explosives.

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What is National Action?

Police officers wearing face coverings due to Covid-19 walk past New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service. Officer Benjamin Hannam was found guilty of being a member of banned group National Action.

National Action is a Neo-nazi terrorist group based in the UK.

The group was formed in 2013 following the decline of right-wing political groups like the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL).

Benjamin Raymond and Alex Davies, university students at the time, were the founders of the group.

They have previously described the National Action as "like the BNP but more radical", believing the BNP to be a “moderate” far right organisation.

National Action instead styled themselves as a neo-Nazi group, promoting extreme racist, homophobic and anti-semitic views through marches and leafletting.

In an online post, Raymond wrote “As a teenager, Mein Kampf changed my life. I am not ashamed to say I love Hitler”.

When and why did they get banned?

The group was “proscribed” - banned - under the Terrorism Act 2000 in late 2016.

This move made it illegal to be or to support a member of National Action, with former Home Secretary Amber Rudd calling the group "a racist, antisemitic and homophobic organisation which stirs up hatred, glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology".

National Action are one of just four terrorist organisations banned under the act in the UK, and the first far-right group to be banned since the now-defunct British Union of Fascists in the 1940s.

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The proscription came in the wake of National Action expressing support for the murderer of MP Jo Cox and calling for further violence against MPs and others.

When did Benjamin Hannam become a member?

Hannam had been working as a probationary officer for the Met police for around two years before his far right views were discovered.

A leaked database showed Hannam was a user of extreme right-wing online forum “Iron March”.

He’d joined the forum shortly after joining the London branch of National Action in March 2016.

The group was banned in December of the same year, but Hannam remained a member for several months afterwards.

The day the group was banned, Hannam transferred a knife-fighting manual from his computer onto a memory stick along with other extremist materials, the court heard.

He was arrested last year, and officers found National Action badges, writings about his involvement with the group and a business card in his home.

Police also found multiple prohibited images including "pseudo images" of young girls and boys.

What is NS131 and Scottish Dawn?

Aside from joining National Action, the court heard that Hannam had also joined a successor of the National Action - named NS131 - in 2017.

Hannam had appeared in the group’s videos spray-painting neo-Nazi logos.

NS131 was essentially an alias for National Action and was also banned in 2017.

Scottish Dawn was another (Scotland based) successor group to National Action, and was banned along with NS131 in 2017.

What is Iron March?

Iron March was a facist web forum on which various people with far-right views conversed.

Hannam joined the forum, with one thread started by him titled: "Muslim shoots white man in London". In this thread he asked for "thoughts and advice".

As of mid-2018, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has linked almost 100 hate crime murders to Iron March.

The site closed in 2017 but in 2019, details of users were leaked by an anonymous individual, leading to the arrest of Hannam.